Carolyn Marsden is the author of Silk Umbrellas, about a girl called Noi who has to choose between following her dreams and being able to provide for her family. Silk Umbrellas is on the Junior Book Shortlist.
What’s your favourite Thai food? Som Tam– Green Papaya Salad! I love it when it’s spicy and I have to cool my mouth down with the raw cabbage.
Are you writing anything new at the moment? I’m currently working on a teen fantasy story set in 16th c. Thailand. It’s a love story based on the well-known Thai folktale of Koon Phan/Koon Chan. The boy character is a magical warrior in the Thai tradition and the girl character creates beautiful lacquer work. There will be lots of magic, some battles, and a love triangle.
What can children learn about Thailand from reading Silk Umbrellas? In 1994 I spent time in Lampahn with an activist friend of my husband’s. She educated me on how the foreign factories were polluting the land and endangering the lives of young workers. I went home and wrote Silk Umbrellas. Since then, I understand the manufacturing situation is not as bad. However, I’d like children to learn that in Thailand, as well as other developing countries, industrialization can lead to many problems, including pollution and loss of the traditional way of life.
Did you do any research for your story, and if so how did you go about it? Since all of my books are about cultures other than my own, I always do a lot of research. My husband is Thai and I’ve spent time in Thailand, so I already had a feeling for the culture. However, I relied heavily on a “gatekeeper”– a friend in northern Thailand whom I consulted so that all the story details would be authentic.
Carolyn Marsden has a great website where you can find out more information about her and her books.